Monday, July 4, 2011

Rhapsody on a Windy Night by T. S. Eliot

Winter Moon by Marion

It's an Eliot kind of day today.  I came to Mr. Eliot's works in my early 40's and now I can't get enough of his writings.  I was reading this one late last night on my Kindle and fell in love with the moon imagery.  His poetry never, ever disappoints me.  Enjoy! 

Rhapsody on a Windy Night
By T. S. Eliot

TWELVE o’clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
Half-past one,
The street-lamp sputtered,
The street-lamp muttered,
The street-lamp said, “Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,

And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.”

The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap.

Half-past two,
The street-lamp said,
“Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter.”
So the hand of the child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
I could see nothing behind that child’s eye.
I have seen eyes in the street
Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
An old crab with barnacles on his back,
Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.

Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.
The lamp hummed:

Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smooths the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and eau de Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain.”
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.
The lamp said,
“Four o’clock,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair.
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife.

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965). From: "Prufrock and Other Observations." 1917.


Kelly said...

I need to read more Eliot. Before I just go searching, what do you recommend (for Kindle)?

Marion said...

Kelly, I have "Works of T. S. Eliot" which is $1.99. Worth a thousand times that price!! You'll love it. Here's the Amazon link:

Terresa said...

Beautiful, ominous...

"Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife."

TS Eliot, what a master of words.

PS: Happy 4th, Marion!!

erin said...

what an odd way to end the poem and yet, so Eliot. his reminicenses here have me wanting for a smoky room, poverty and poor light. i laugh. i've almost all. what a curious chap, i imagine all who encountered him must have said.


Marion said...

Happy 4th to you, too, Terresa! We spent most of the day at Hobby Lobby buying art supplies on sale. (Ray - paint, and me - ink for my calligraphy pen). Thanks for stopping by. Blessings...

Erin, I know!! I've read several biographies about him (I'm obsessed about the lives of authors/poets I love) and oh, how I felt for his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. I read an amazing bio about her, "Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot" by Carole Seymour-Jones. Turns out Mr. Eliot fell deeply in love with another young man when he was first in England. The man went to war and died and I think Mr. Eliot pined for him the rest of his life and it defined much of his writings. xoxo

EcoGrrl said...

ahh, i dig ts eliot, in fact the book i hold in my hand in the photo at the top of my blog? a book of his poems, taken when i was just 15 :)

Kelly said...

Thanks for the link, Marion. It's now residing in my Kindle.

Wine and Words said...

“Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,

And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.”

I am in love with a street-lamp. Is that okay??? I suppose I shall now be committed. I love you photo Marion. I am now of the task of creating my Esty site, and my greeting cards could use such an image. Would you be so inclined to lend?

Oh...for the wisdom of a street-lamp.

♫So let the wind blow us
To wherever it says
We are supposed to go

When you want something but can't name it
It's under a streetlight
It's something you've never seen before

Open the door
It's something you've always been afraid of
It's under a streetlight
And now all you want is more.♫
(Joshua Radin - Under A Streetlight)

Marion said...

EcoGirl, great minds think alike. LOL! Thanks for stopping by.

Annie, you're welcome to use the photo, my friend. Love those lyrics!!!! xoxo

Margaret Pangert said...

The moon is mystical for me, too, Marion! "It never holds a grudge," says Eliot. Maybe why it creates a longing in us~

Snowbrush said...

May I add a rainy night poem to go with your windy night? You'll know it, I would bet.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

She Writes said...

There is something about the scent of geraniums that always triggers my memory. I love that he captured that.